While paging through cookbooks for traditional African-American and Kwanzaa dessert recipes, I was inspired by the heavy use of spices like nutmeg and allspice as well as how recipes often include a healthy pureed vegetable. This spiced, fragrant, and not-too-sweet sweet potato cake pairs with a decadent coconut cream cheese frosting to incorporate some tropical flavor into a more traditional, seasonal dessert. Read on to learn how to make Spiced Sweet Potato Cake with Creamy Coconut Frosting, a sweet holiday treat perfect for celebrating any holiday (even if that holiday is just a snow day).
First make the cake. Grease two 8 inch round cake pans, or place parchment paper rounds on the bottoms of the pan and lightly grease the sides. In a large bowl, combine:
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp salt
Cake adapted from VegNews, makes two 8-inch round cake layers
Add the Sweet Potato
Make a well and add a 15 oz can of pureed sweet potato or the same amount of freshly pureed baked sweet potato. I had a medium sized sweet potato lying around so I made a fresh puree: with a fork, poke a few holes in the sweet potato skin and roast (with the skin on) directly on the middle oven shelf at 375 degrees, turning every 15 minutes for about an hour. Let cool. It should be easy to peel off the skin; dump the flesh into a food processor and puree. If you have more than 15 oz, put the extra in a bowl and add cinnamon and a bit of milk and Earth Balance vegan margarine for a tasty meal side.
Mix Wet & Dry Ingredients
Add 1/4 cup soymilk, 3/4 cup of water, a 1/4 cup of mild-flavored oil such as canola or safflower, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Using a spatula, mix the wet and dry ingredients together, until a smooth batter forms. Divide batter into two cake pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.
Toast the Coconut
Next, toast 1 cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut in a small skillet until fragrant and the coconut pieces are honey colored. Watch carefully – they can get dark very quickly. Pour the coconut into a bowl and let cool completely.
Making the Creamy Double Coconut Frosting
- 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
- 1/4 cup vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
In a medium-sized bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and margarine. Gradually add the melted coconut oil until fully incorporated. Next add the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup batches, beating each until fully incorporated and no lumps remain. Place in refrigerator for at least half an hour to an hour to firm up. If frosting is too hard to spread, let it warm up slightly. Mix in 1/4-1/2 cup of the cooled, toasted coconut. This frosting, due to the coconut oil, is temperature sensitive so don’t be frustrated if it becomes melty. You can place it in the fridge again to harden.
Assemble the Cake
Remove cakes from pans and place one on a plate or cake stand. Spread half of the frosting on top of the cake round. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top of the frosting. Layer again with the other cake round and the rest of the frosting. Again, sprinkle with toasted coconut. Use any remaining coconut to decorate the serving platter.
Enjoy immediately or place in the refrigerator so that the frosting doesn’t melt. Remove cake 10-15 minutes before you are ready to serve dessert to allow the frosting to come to a creamy texture. Enjoy!